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Leading Professional Learning Teams

Leading Professional Learning Teams
A Start-Up Guide for Improving Instruction

Foreword by Shirley M. Hord

September 2009 | 168 pages | Corwin

Leadership Solutions

"As a high school principal, it is crucial to have tools and models that have teeth, that will make an impact on student achievement, and also improve collegiality and collaboration among teachers. This is a wonderful faculty book study choice for any school looking to have teams of teachers focused on data and how to incorporate best practices in their classrooms."
—Steve Knobl, Principal
Gulf High School, New Port Richey, FL

Strengthen teacher expertise and expand instructional leadership through focused professional learning teams!

Although a generous amount of research describes professional learning teams (PLTs) as a positive structure for developing a vision of school change through informed, data-based decision making, little guidance exists for schools wanting to create and sustain this type of team initiative.

Leading Professional Learning Teams provides a field-tested model for implementing PLTs that strengthen teacher collaboration in professional learning communities, improve instruction, and increase student achievement. Developed in partnership between educators, Education Northwest (formerly known as the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory), and six high-needs schools, this guide shows a professional learning team in action. Each chapter highlights four important elements to help ensure alignment with educators' objectives:

  • Action: Steps for starting up a PLT
  • Voices From the Field: School leaders offering insights from actual PLTs
  • Tools: Resources with information about PLTs, plus at-a-glance road maps for each step of the implementation process
  • Leadership Team Discussion: Discussion suggestions for implementation leaders

Written for school leaders who are new to PLTs and those who want to fine-tune their efforts, this resource is an invaluable tool for correlating staff development with your school's improvement goals.

List of Figures and Tables
Foreword by Shirley M. Hord
About the Author
1. Understanding Professional Learning Teams
Defining Professional Learning Teams

The Need for PLTs

Other Models for Teacher Collaboration

Key Points for Chapter 1

2. Setting the Stage for Success
Readiness for PLTs

Understanding Change

Building Relationships

Creating Avenues of Communication

Key Points for Chapter 2

3. Laying the Foundation Within the School Community
Advocating for PLTs With Important Stakeholders

Aligning With School Goals

Structures for Working Collaboratively

Providing and Using Data

Providing Additional Resources

Establishing Supportive Accountability

Key Points for Chapter 3

4. What About Leadership?
Administrators as Leaders

Shared and Facilitative Leadership

Teacher Leadership

Sustaining Leadership

Vignette: A Professional Learning Team in Action

Key Points for Chapter 4

5. Supporting the Work of PLTs
Successful PLTs

Reinforcing PLT Strategies and Skills

Ensuring That PLTs Are Teacher Led

Using a Rubric to Encourage Reflection

Anticipating Potential Challenges

Celebrating Success

Key Points for Chapter 5

A. National Staff Development Council (NSDC) Standards for Staff Development
B. Survey of School Capacity for Continuous Improvement
C. Professional Learning Community (PLC) Survey
D. Finding Time for Professional Learning
E. Resolving Conflict: Key to Collaboration
F. Sample Conflict Scenarios
G. Possible Expectations for PLT Team Leaders and Facilitators
H. Tools
1. Professional Learning Team Inquiry Cycle

2. PLT Inquiry Cycle With Steps Explained

3. Getting Started: Sample Agenda for Workship 1

4. PLT Team Log

5. Sample PLT team Meeting Agenda and Log

6. Defining Team Roles

7. Professional Learning Team: Planning Sheet

8. Five Demensions of Professional Learning Communities

9. Criteria for Quality Team Time

10. Finding Time for Collaboration

11. Factors Supporting the Success of PLTs

12. PLT Implementation Rubric

13. Getting Started Roadmap

Suggested Readings

"As a high school principal, it is crucial to have tools and models that have teeth, that will make an impact on student achievement, and also improve collegiality and collaboration among teachers. This is a wonderful faculty book study choice for any school looking to have teams of teachers focused on data and how to incorporate best practices in their classrooms. I really like the key points section for an extra-busy administrator or teacher who still wants to get the main ideas."

Steve Knobl, Principal
Gulf High School, New Port Richey, FL

This book comes out of the highly credible stable of NWREL (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory), with the foreword written by Shirley Hord. Typically, the book is about changing practice in schools, and it leads the readers through the change process.

If I had to think of three adjectives to describe this book, they would be: PRACTICAL, PRACTICAL, PRACTICAL. The resources offered include: NSCD standards, continuous improvement capacity survey, PLC survey, very useful strategies for finding time for professional learning, conflict resolution, team expectations, and 13 very useful tools, including road maps.

Change is difficult in schools, but with this support, essential change becomes doable. And, the book will provide the best professional learning that you could buy in setting up professional learning teams.

This book is essential reading for school leadership teams.

Neil MacNeill, Principal
Ellenbrook Primary School, WA, Australia

"This book is packed with insights about creating cultures of inquiry that are focused upon student learning. I found the gritty details of the work of the teams helpful. That alone would convince me to buy the book."

Becky J. Cooke, Principal
Mead School District, Spokane, WA

"A must-read guide for any school principal ready to take the next step forward into professional learning teams to improve instruction and learning in their school. This well-organized guide is both practical and research based."

Mark White, Principal
Hintgen Elementary School, La Crosse, WI
Key features
  • Four icons designate special features throughout every chapter that are designed to help school leaders getting ready to initiate professional learning teams (PLTs)
    • Action: actions that leaders should take as they implement PLTs
    • Voices From the Field: direct quotes that offer insights from leaders of actual PLTs
    • Tool: resource materials that can be duplicated and used to share information about PLTs
    • Leadership Team Discussion: suggestions and questions at the end of each chapter to guide discussion among leaders preparing to implement PLTs
  • Includes numerous samples and tools—handouts, transparencies, or posters—that can be printed and used to organize and introduce information on PLTs
  • Full-page masters can be found in the resource section at the end of the book and are referenced in the chapters with the Tool icon
  • Provides a field-tested PLT Inquiry Cycle model that helps teachers and administrators develop a coherent vision of school change as they build a culture that values and uses data to inform decisions

Sample Materials & Chapters


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ISBN: 9781452210278

ISBN: 9781412965538

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